America, Opportunity and inequality, 1920 - 1973

Timeline of events

AQA GCSE History: America, 1920 - 1973: supporting resources

  • Student resources

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    Comprehensive set of notes covering:

    1. American people and the 'Boom'
    2. 'Bust'- Americans' experiences of the Depression and the New Deal
    3. Post war America

    + recommended media

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  • Films

    Numerous films portray civil rights issues during this period. Below are some of our recommendations. Be beware that some content my be inappropriate for your class. Be check before showing.

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  • YouTube

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    Check out the YouTube channel:
    GCSE History for selected recommended viewings.

  • FREE posters

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Part One: American people and the 'Boom'

  • America in the 1920s

    Treaty of Versailles 1919

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    . President Wilson introduced his 'Fourteen Points' at the Peace Conference
    , Division over the Treaty in the USA - Democrats negotiated it, Republicans less keen on it.


    Volstead Act - Prohibition 1919

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    . In 1919 the USA passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the US constitution:
    "a ban on the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors"
    but the consumption of alcohol was still legal
    . Described as a 'noble experiment'.


    Palmer Raids 1919

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    . Palmer Raids 1919-1921
    Attorney General Mitchell Palmer set up a division headed by J Edgar Hoover to look into ‘Reds’ in government.:
    . 200,000 + investigated
    . Thousands deported or jailed
    . Most were innocent, many arrested for looking like a radical


    League of Nations 1920

    . Republican leader in Congress, Lodge wanted changes to League & Wilson refused to compromise.
    . Republicans had a majority and refused to support the League.
    . Many wanted a return to
    isolationism, to be away from European problems.

    . Without USA the League was weakened, plus no Germany or Russia.
    . Without the USA sanctions were often meaningless, as countries could trade with the USA


    Women's Right to Vote 1920

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    . Women won the right to vote in 1920
    . Some women became more independent in the 1920s - the 'flapper'


    Steel Strike ends 1919

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    . After WWI many people lost their jobs as govt work for the war stopped.
    21 January 1919: 35,000 shipyard workers on strike
    6 February 1919: general strike in Seattle with 60,00 workers on strike
    “Reds” were blamed (though no evidence that Reds were involved) & the mayor got the police and troops on the streets.
    Striking workers went back to work in 1920


    Inventions 1920

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    . The 1920s saw numerous new devices come to the market including:
    . refrigerators
    . washing machines
    . vacuum cleaners
    . dishwashers
    . frozen food


    First radio broadcast 1920

    . The first radio news programme was broadcast on 31st August, 1920
    . In the 1920s over 10 million radios were sold. Over 50 million people were regularly listening to the radio, with hundreds of stations across the country, listening to news, sports events, drama & music inc. jazz.


    The 'good' bootlegger

    . Roy Olmstead become a bootlegger whilst serving as a police officer
    . "My dad thought that prohibition was an immoral law. So he had no compunction about breaking that law.. And Dad's particular job was the bagman for the police department. He decided that patrolmen would get so much and no more per week; sergeants would get so much; lieutenants, captains and so on. So he was the paymaster for the Olmstead Gang". Edwin T Hunt


    Rum running

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    . William McCoy, a Florida boat captain established the 'rum running trade'
    . He shipped cases of rum from Nassau, in the Bahamas into Florida, making over $15,000 per trip


    Mass production

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    . Henry Ford set-up the first assembly line in 1913
    Factories set up assembly lines to produce goods more quickly & cheaper - mass production
    . Each worker did only one or two jobs. Henry Ford used assembly lines to make cheap cars (Model T)


    Emergency Immigration Act 1921

    . Emergency Immigration Act 1921
    . limited number of immigrants to 3% of those in the country in 1910.
    . therefore favoured immigrants from Western Europe


    Sacco & Vanzetti arrested 1921

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    Sacco & Vanzetti Trial 1921
    . Found guilty of armed robbery & murder. in 1921. There were witnesses who said they were not even there when the crime happened. The judge did not like the fact they were anarchists (against government).
    . Appeals were dismissed.
    . There were protests from all around the world.


    Harding becomes president, 1921

    . Warren Harding sworn in as 29th US President

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    4 March 1921

    Fordney-McCumber Act 1922

    . The US govt. passed the Fordney-McCumber Act 1922 which increased tariffs (taxes) on goods imported.

    . This made products made in the USA cheaper so people bought US goods.


    Coolidge becomes President 1923

    . Calvin Coolidge sworn in as 30th US President
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    3 August 1923

    Marcus Garvey deported, 1923

    Marcus Garvey
    . Founded UNIA Universal Negro Improvement Association.
    . He stated blacks should not be part of white society, they ought to do business only with other blacks.
    . Black Americans would return to Africa, via his shipping line, the ‘Black Star.’
    . Garvey was arrested for fraud and deported in 1923.
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    Immigration Act 1924

    . Immigration Act
    . limited immigration to 2% (from 3%)
    . designed to stop Eastern & Southern Europeans


    John Scopes Trial, 1924

    . John Scopes was as a biology teacher in Tennessee, who taught about evolution, which was banned. In the 'Monkey Trial' which followed Scopes was fined $100, but most Americans thought the Christian Fundamentalists who wanted the law, were being ridiculous.
    Biology text books avoided the word ‘evolution’ for many years afterwards. Trial showed the growing differences between traditional christians and the new belief in science. A battle between the old and the new.


    Dawes Plan, 1924

    . USA loaned Germany $200 million dollars, enabling Germany to rebuild its economy allowing it to pay its reparations


    Klu Klux Klan, 1924

    . By 1924 the KKK had a membership over over 5 million


    Al Capone leader of Chicago gang, 1925

    . The most famous of all the gangsters. Became leader of Chicago gang in 1925.
    . He controlled all the sales of alcohol in the city after he had his rival Moran & six others killed.
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    Sacco & Vanzetti executed 1927

    . Sacco & Vanzetti were executed. in 1927, despite in 1925 another man confessing to the robbery & murder.


    Hollywood 'talkies', 1927

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    . Sacco & Vanzetti were executed. in 1927, despite in 1925 another man confessing to the robbery & murder.
    . Cinemas appeared in every town & city in the USA
    . A weekly visit was normal
    . Movies were silent until 1927
    . Stars included: Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino
    . Films began to be made in Hollywood, Los Angeles


    Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928

    . USA and other major countries agreed not to go to war with each other


    St Valentines Day Massacre, 1929

    . The 'St. Valentines Massacre' in 1929, shocked the USA. with seven of Bugs Moran's gang shot by Al Capone's men. It was the one of many shootings across cities in the USA
    . No one knows how many people Al Capone had killed, some say over 200.
    . Reporters followed him around like a movie star.
    . It is thought he made £60 million a year.
    . Police could not convict him of any murders as nobody would say anything against him, fearing for their lives.

    14 February 1929

    Al Capone found guilty

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    . Al Capone found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison

    17 October 1931

Part Two: American's experiences of the Depression and the New Deal

  • The Great Depression and the New Deal

    Agricultural Marketing Act 1929

    . Recognised that crop prices had been in decline for a number of years
    . Federal Farm Board would purchase surplus crops to keep the prices higher
    . BUT farmers realised they could keep selling their surplus so increased production with greater use of fertilizers and mechanisation

    June 1929

    Stock market falls, 1929

    . Stock market falls as companies over the summer reported lower profits

    5 September 1929

    Stock market rebounds, 1929

    . Stock market prices rise as brokers buy 'cheaper' shares and people 'buy on the margin'

    6 September 1929

    Share prices fall

    . Stock market prices fall rapidly

    21 September 1929

    'Black' Thursday

    . Panic hits as 13 million shares are sold, wiping $9billion off the value.
    . Banks buy shares to stop the panic.

    24 September 1929

    'Black' Monday

    . More panic on Wall Street as 16 million shares are sold
    . People and banks instantly become bankrupt
    . People 'buying on the margin' couldn't pay back their loans
    . Banks went bankrupt

    29 September 1929

    Tax cuts

    . President Hoover introduced tax cuts worth $160 million to encourage people to buy to increase demand


    Reconstruction Finance Construction

    . 1931: Reconstruction Finance Construction set up to help businesses and banks with loans plus help for the unemployed with shelter, clothing & food


    Big project spending

    . Hoover set up a fund of $400 million to build big infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam to create jobs and stimulate the economy


    Share prices down

    . Shares are down on average 40% in one month

    Share prices 1929: (cents)
    Company Sept Nov
    US Steel 279 150
    Standard Oil 83 48
    General Motors 182 36
    Brooklyn Gas 248 99
    Westinghouse 289 102

    Mid November 1931

    Emergency Relief & Reconstruction Act

    1932: Emergency Relief & Reconstruction Act gave $1.5 billion in loans to states to help them build projects to create jobs.


    Economic Depression

    By 1932 the US economy had was in a depression

    . Unemployment went from 1.5 million to 12.8 million in 1933 (average 25% )
    . Wealth
    of the country (Gross National Product) fell by 50%
    . Banks
    closed in their thousands inc. Bank of US in New York (30% of New Yorkers lost)
    . Companies
    went bankrupt (100,000 by 1933)
    . Farmers
    income fell by 50%. Examples: 1919 prices compared to 1932: Cotton 353 cents to 0.65 cents - Wheat $2.16 to $0.38 - Corn $1.51 to $0.310

    Social Impact
    . Unemployment: people lost homes etc. got food from charities
    . Suicides: 20,000+ committed suicide in the years 1930-1933
    . Hoovervilles: people lived in shanty towns built out of rubbish
    . Farmers: thousands of farmers lost their farms as they could not pay their bank loans
    . Hoboes: thousands of unemployed men, travelled the country looking for jobs


    1932 Presidential Election

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    President Hoover: Republican
    16 million votes)
    . Business to create jobs not government
    . USA would recover in time
    . Seen by many as dull & not caring
    . Blamed for Wall St. Crash & Depression
    . Seen as not doing enough to help people

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    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Democrat
    (23 million votes)
    . Had polio as a child, so seen as a fighter
    . Helped people as Governor of New York
    . Excellent public speaker
    . Gave people hope for the future

    . Promised a New Deal


    Emergency Banking Act

    . Reopened good banks with federal loans if needed
    . 75% of banks reopened within 3 days
    . Money and gold got back into circulation
    . Smaller were merged into larger banks

    9 March 1933

    Securities Act

    . Brought rules and regulations to Wall Street
    . Companies on the stock exchange now had to declare details of the company - profit, loss etc. verified by independent auditors


    First New Deal 1933 - 1934

    . Civilian Conservation Corps CCC Give work to young people on conservation projects

    . Home Owners Loan Corporation HOLC Help home owners who could not pay their mortgages

    . Agricultural Adjustment Administration AAA Support farmers to make a profit

    . National Recovery Administration NRA Encourage business to pay higher wages & charge fair prices

    . Federal Emergency Relief Admin FERA Money given to the states to help unemployed & homeless people

    Tennessee Valley Authority TVA To help the Tennessee Valley area which was very poor


    Second New Deal 1935 - 1936

    . National Labour Relations Act NLR Replaced the NRA. Increase trade union membership.

    . Social SecurityAct SSA Pensions for people 65+

    . Soil Conversation Act SCA To help tenant farmers & look after the soil.

    . National Housing Acts NHA To help low income families. Help with mortgage payments.

    21 April 2022

Post-war America

  • The Red Scare

    Red Scare

    Cold War
    The WWII alliance between the USA and the USSR soon broke down for a number of reasons: Eastern Europe; Germany; Atomic bomb & Lack of trust

    Different beliefs and ideas:
    capitalism/democracy V communism
    The two countries had in fact been rivals since the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917. Stalin and the USSR feared the USA with its atomic bombs whilst the USA feared Stalin wanted to spread communism around the world. The two superpowers were soon to start a nuclear arms race as USSR had an atomic bomb by1949.
    The USA was very worried when Stalin took over Eastern Europe & responded: Greece (fight the communists)
    Truman Doctrine (containment & domino theory)
    Marshall Plan ($17 billion to rebuild Europe) USA feared spies working for the USSR were in their country

    Post World War II

    Hoover and the FBI

    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    The head of the FBI: Herbert Hoover. The FBI had accused thousands of people of being communists. Many people lost their jobs - FBI did not have to ‘prove’ anything. ‘Evidence’ was often got illegally, & the FBI's word was final. Some people say this period should be known as ‘Hooverism’ not ‘McCarthyism’


    House UnAmerican Activities Committee

    Formed in 1938
    Committee looked for Nazi sympathisers during WWII then communists working in govt. & Hollywood.
    HUAC was more well known after the Hiss Case in 1948.
    People who were called before the committee were asked to name names of other communists.
    If they refused they were considered to be communist!



    Hollywood was at the centre of the Red Scare. Many actors, directors, screenwriters, musicians etc. were blacklisted for having communist links. Most struggled to get a job for years. Employing a blacklisted person meant the employer was at risk of being accused of being a communist.


    Loyalty Order, 1947

    Every Federal worker tested to make sure they were loyal to the government


    Hollywood Ten, 1947

    Ten Hollywood directors & actors refused to speak at the HUAC hearing. They were in ‘contempt of Congress’.They were all sacked from their jobs.
    Hollywood Blacklist began.


    Hiss Case, 1948

    Alger Hiss was a lawyer who worked for the US govt. Chambers, a former communist said Hiss was a communist.
    Before the HUAC Hiss said he had never spied for the USSR. Chambers showed ‘evidence’ that Hiss was a spy.
    Hiss found guilty of perjury (lying) & given 5 years in prison.


    Rosenburg Case, 1953

    Ethel & Julius Rosenberg arrested & executed for spying (1953).
    They gave USSR documents about the US atomic bomb.
    Others: Greenglass, Flusch & Gold also passed atomic secrets to the USSR & were sent to prison.


    McCarran Internal Security Act, 1950

    All communist organisations had to register. Anyone who was fascist or communist had citizenship removed for 5 years or not allowed to visit the USA.
    President Truman said law against the ‘Bill of Rights’ & made USA more fascist.



    Republican Senator for Wisconsin 1946
    Joseph McCarthy He got elected on a ticket of patriotism: telling everyone about his war record & the fact his opponent did not fight in WWII.

    National spotlight
    McCarthy gave a speech in February 1950, at a small meeting at the Ohio County Women’s Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia. He held a piece of paper in the air & told the audience that on it were the names of 205 communists who were working in the State Department.nWhat happened next surprised everyone including McCarthy.
    It was soon headlines across the USA as national newspapers covered the story.bWhat McCarthy did not say was that most of those on the list had already been investigated & were not communists. Republicans had used ‘socialism’ & ‘communism’ to describe much of Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s. So using these labels to attack Democrats was not new.

    The List 1950
    McCarthy says he has a list with the names of 205 communists working in the government.

    Senate subcommittee
    Committee checks McCarthy’s list and found no proof that these people are communists
    Many spoke out against McCarthy including
    President Eisenhower.

    McCarthy continues to accuse people of being communist or communist sympathisers.

    1953: McCarthy is Head of Committee of Government Operations
    His attacks continue with over 2,000 govt. employees losing their jobs - despite the lack of proof.


    End of McCarthyism

    Many politicians, Democrats and Republicans were against McCarthy, but were often scared of speaking against him for fear of being accused of being communist sympathisers

    Bill of Rights
    People were shocked that the right to freedom of speech was being attacked.
    This is what the USA stood for.

    CBS news
    1954: Edward Murrow presented a programme that accused McCarthy of abusing his power, of denying the people their freedom of speech.

    McCarthy & the army
    The US army said that McCarthy tried to influence the army in getting his friends special treatment when they were in the army.

    Army Hearings 1954
    Claimed communist sympathisers in the army.
    Seeing McCarthy behaving like a bully on TV shocked many people. They turned against him.One army lawyer said, “Have you no decency Sir?”.

    The Senate
    Before the Army hearings had finished Senate had ‘condemned’ him for being “vulgar and insulting” and not behaving like a Senator should.
    His power had gone and he died in 1957 (aged 48).

  • Civil rights campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s

    Position of Black Americans in the 1950s

    Segregation & discrimination in the southern states

    Blacks arrived in the USA as part of the slave trade.

    Large plantations (in the south) needed cheap labour.
    Slaves were taken/bought in West Africa to the USA & sold.

    The US Civil War was fought partly about slavery.
    The northern states wanted to abolish slavery, the southern states thought is was none of their business.

    When the North won the Civil War slavery was abolished in 1865, but racism and discrimination continued in the south.
    Many blacks headed to the cities in the looking for work.

    Others stayed in the south and continued farming, but their standard of living was poor.

    Discrimination in the south created huge inequality for blacks.

    Few blacks voted, schools
    and public services for
    blacks were worse than for whites.

    Blacks were often separated from whites: on buses, in restaurants, etc.

    These were known as the
    ‘Jim Crow’ Laws.

    Jim Crow Laws
    Passed after 1874.
    Idea was that blacks and whites would be ‘separate but equal’.

    Separate meant poor quality schools etc for blacks.

    This is known racial

    Plessy v Ferguson 1896
    The decision by the Supreme Court made
    ‘separate but equal’ lawful.

    ‘Separate but equal’ was
    usually not equal.

    In Montgomery Alabama,
    blacks sat at the back of the bus and had to stand if a white person wanted to sit their place.
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    Blacks were educated in schools but usually these schools were poorly funded. Many colleges and
    universities did not accept applications from blacks.

    Right to vote
    Everyone had the right to vote
    You had to register to vote and it was made difficult
    e.g. tests
    Violence was often used to stop black people from registering.

    Law enforcement
    Laws in many states were ignored by police and the courts.
    Police often did nothing when blacks were victims & sometimes it was the police that committed the crime against blacks.
    In the south white juries would rarely find a white person guilty if the victim was black, but would nearly always find a black person guilty if the victim was white.

    Post World War II

    Position of Black Americans in the 1950s

    Progress in education

    ‘Separate but equal’ included education.

    Blacks and whites had
    separate schools in most southern states.
    Schools for blacks were always less well equipped etc

    National Association for the Advancement of Coloured
    People and the black lawyer Thurgood Marshall went to court to argue that segregated schools were against the US constitution.

    1950 Supreme Court
    Judge Julius Waring: all states had to provide equal
    education for blacks and whites.

    But he did not say that schools had to be mixed.

    Little changed as states did not spend the money on black schools to improve them.
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    Brown v Topeka Board of Education
    The case
    Sept. 1952
    NAACP represented a girl called Linda Brown. She went to a black school a long way from home - having to cross a railway line to get there.
    There was a white-only school near her house.
    NAACP took theBoard of Education, in Topeka, Kansas to court, arguing it was dangerous & wrong to make a girl walk to school, when there was a school close to her house.

    The ruling
    May 1954
    Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled that segregated education could not be equal.
    He said all schools in the southern states should now
    be integrated
    with all deliberate speed’

    Little Rock High School, Arkansas
    ‘With all deliberate speed’ 1957
    Most states introduced the Brown v Board of education ruling with ‘deliberate speed’. Some
    states used many excuses not to follow the ruling.
    They did not want to end segregation e.g. Arkansas

    In 1957 the Supreme Court ordered the Governor -
    Orval Faubus to let 9 black students into Little Rock
    High School. Faubus said he could not be sure they would be safe. President Eisenhower sent soldiers to protect the black students for 6 weeks. There was no violence after the soldiers left.

    Governor Faubus was elected the next 3 times.
    Battle lines were drawn :for v against civil rights

    For civil rights:
    NAACP + others looking to take laws to the Supreme Court.
    Protests & campaigns.

    Against civil rights:
    Rise of Ku Klux Klan
    More violence

    States fight Federal laws & closed schools



    Attitudes in the South

    For many little had changed since slavery was abolished after the civil war in 1865.

    Former slaves found themselves working for their former slave owners, with a standard of living which was still poor.

    Most whites in the south did not change their attitude to blacks just because they lost the civil war.

    Jim Crow laws continued segregation.

    The more extreme whites were part of the white supremacist movement which included the
    ‘White Citizens’ Council’
    (Citizen’s Councils of America) and the ‘Ku Klux Klan’.
    Many police officers, judges and politicians were
    members of such groups.

    Civil rights activists as

    well as blacks were treated to southern justice - a beating or even a lynching.

    White Citizens' Councils of America 1954
    after schools were desegregated in 1954 (Brown v Topeka)

    . to stop the desegregation of schools and other public facilities
    . to stop blacks from voting

    Up to 250,000 members including police, politicians etc.

    End of the Citizens’ Councils
    Influence of Councils less in 1970s after all the civil rights laws in the 1960s.

    against violence (officially)

    . Boycott of activists’ business
    . Had people lose their jobs
    . Evicted from homes
    . Refused loans etc

    . gave donations to councils
    . passed segregation laws

    as schools were desegregated the council set-up ‘private schools’ for whites, some of which exist today.

    Ku Klux Klan

    . after civil war in 1865
    . secret organisation

    . to keep segregation
    . to stop the civil rights

    Members included police, politicians etc
    FBI more interested in communists than Klansmen who had committed murder etc

    Their sign was the burning of a cross

    . protests
    . violence

    . Stop blacks registering to vote
    . Bomb homes of NAACP & attack them
    . Bomb black churches
    . Attack civil rights activists
    . Bombed school buses used to take blacks to white schools
    . Attacked ‘Freedom riders’
    . Used lynching as a way of scaring people
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    southern democrats formed in1948 to have a bigger say in theDemocratic party

    . against much of the New Deal
    . for segregation
    . more power for southern states

    group with the Democratic party to promote interests of the south

    . try to change laws
    . try to stop Harry Truman becoming President
    . joined White Citizens’s councils

    Montgomery Bus Boycott and Non Violent Direct Action

    Montgomery, Alabama
    Blacks had been upset about segregation on the buses for many years.

    2 March 1955;
    Claudette Colvin (15)
    arrested and found guilty for not giving up her seat to a white man.
    Did not break the law, as she was sat in the black area at the back and other seats were available.
    Other blacks had also been arrested.

    Others involved:
    E.D. Nixon
    A porter on the trains, worked to improve working conditions.
    Organised: Montgomery Voters League: trying to get blacks registered to vote
    Member: NAACP in local & state.
    After Rosa Parks was arrested Nixon persuaded her to let the NAACP challenge the bus segregation laws.
    Nixon got black leaders including Martin Luther King to join the protest

    Jo Ann Robinson
    College professor
    President of Women’s Political Council with Nixon led a boycott of the Montgomery buses on Monday 5 December 1955
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    Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955

    1 Dec 1955
    Rosa Parks arrested and found guilty for not giving her seat to a white man.

    Bus Boycott
    Women’s Political Council organised a bus boycott.
    5 Dec 1955
    Blacks boycotted the Montgomery buses.
    Bus company lost 65% of its revenue as people shared car lifts or walked. This is an example of:

    Montgomery Improvement

    formed after the bus boycott
    Up to 15,000 people turned up to hear Martin Luther King speak.

    Bus Boycott
    Continued from 1 day to last 381 days!
    Up to 40,000 people boycotted the buses
    Blacks used car pools, some whites helped.
    Taxis were persuaded to offer cheap rides.

    Blacks & whites who favoured the boycott were threatened, beaten or arrested.
    Car pools were made illegal.
    Mixed buses were bombed and shot at - but nobody was found guilty.

    Supreme Court
    Dec 1956
    Court said Montgomery’s bus laws were illegal.
    Thus all other segregation laws were illegal.

    Examples: Non Violent Direct Action

    Civil Rights Movement: Non violent Direct Action
    took off after the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

    Tennessee 1960
    Students organised sit-ins. Their college expelled them until 400 teachers joined them.

    from people against the civil rights movement Violence, Ku Klux Klan etc.

    Atlanta University 1960
    Students organised sit-ins that quickly spread. Included restaurants, libraries, parks etc.


    1st Feb. 1960, Greensboro
    . Four blacks students sat at lunch counter in Woolworths
    . Refused service for being at ‘whites only’ counter
    . Manager asked them to leave & they refused
    . Next day 20 students joined the sit-in, 3rd day 60 students arrived along with TV & newspaper reporters, 4th day 300 students turned up.
    . Segregated stores were boycotted
    . Stores losing business quickly desegregated


    . TV & newspapers covered the sit-ins
    . Woolworths dept store changed its policy of racial segregation
    . Sit-ins became a symbol of the civil rights movements
    . Sit-ins spread to other facilities inc. libraries, beaches, parks etc


    Action groups

    Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) 1957 - to date

    Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

    Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
    1942 - to date

    Freedom Rides

    Civil Rights activists organised bus journeys from one state to another. In 1960 segregation on inter-state journeys was unlawful. These were known as Freedom Rides.

    Freedom Rides
    ‘Freedom Ride’ 4 May 1961 (CORE)
    Washington to New Orleans

    Anniston, Alabama:
    bus fire bombed

    Birmingham, Alabama:
    KKK attacked passengers

    Jackson, Mississippi: passengers arrested for using ‘white’ only facilities


    Support & Sympathy
    Riders treated badly in the South

    JFK passed an ‘executive order’
    1 November 1961:
    passengers could sit anywhere, no more ‘white only’ areas on buses or in bus stations


    James Meredith

    Mississippi University
    Segregated even after Brown v Topeka ruling
    (education desegregated)

    Black student James Meredith applied twice to Mississippi University - rejected both times
    31 May 1961
    NAACP took Meredith case & went to court
    13 Sept 1962
    . Court ordered Miss Uni to accepted Meredith
    . Mississippi Governor - Barrett - declared
    ‘no black to enter whilst I am governor’
    . State passed laws that not allow university applications from students who have broken the law
    (Meredith ‘broke’ the law over voter registration)
    20 Sept 1962
    . Federal govt said these laws not allowed
    . Governor stopped Meredith entering Miss University

    28 Sept 1962
    . Court ordered Governor to be arrested & fined
    29 Sept 1962
    . There were riots around the university & army was called in
    1 Oct 1962
    . Governor allowed Meredith to enter the university
    . 500 soldiers kept the peace

    Graduated August 1963
    . Meredith was ‘hassled’ throughout his time at university; people refused to eat with him, kept him awake etc.

    . Black students enrolled
    . Meredith continued to campaign for civil rights
    . Federal govt. intervention to protect civil rights & the use of the military
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    Malcolm X and Black Power 1963 - 1970

    Nation of Islam and Malcom X

    Nation of Islam (1934)
    Led by Elijah Mohammed who claimed to be a prophet.

    Nation of Islam believed:
    . Allah was black
    . Islam only for blacks
    . to destroy the white religion
    . set up their own schools
    . only did business with blacks
    . own land in the USA & return
    to Africa
    . changed their names or used X as their names were from slavery masters

    Boxer Muhammed Ali was member of the Nation of Islam
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    Malcolm X
    Early life

    Malcolm Little lived in the ghetto - ‘street hustler’
    In prison for burglary
    Converted to Islam
    Joined Nation of Islam when released from prison
    Became the public face of the of Nation of Islam
    Excellent speaker

    “By any means necessary”
    Malcolm X

    For the Nation of Islam
    Excellent speaker, used TV, radio & newspapers, opened mosques around the US
    Spoke against ML King
    Membership increased from: 1952 = 300 1963 = 30,000

    Nation of Islam:
    Fell out with leader Elijah
    Elijah having affairs with 6 women
    Malcolm’s comments after
    death of JFK
    Some thought Malcolm too powerful
    Malcolm ‘silenced’ for 90 days
    Left Nation in March 1964

    Organisation of
    Afro American Unity

    Malcolm went to Mecca - changed him
    Became orthodox muslim
    Spoke about integration of race

    Malcolm X was assassinated by 3 N of I members in February 1965


    Black Power

    Black Power
    groups that wanted black ‘self-determination’ & promote racial pride
    - black nationalism - at war with whites who stopped equality
    - younger blacks not support Martin Luther King’s non violent approach
    - wanted to stop white violence with black violence if necessary

    SNCC & CORE became more radical & pro violence
    SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael used the term ‘Black Power’ and white members of SNCC had to leave. Carmichael joined the Black Panthers in 1969


    Black Panther Party

    (1966) Oakland, California
    Leaders: Huey Newton & Bobby Seale
    Self defence - armed themselves
    against attack
    “Land, Bread, Housing, Education,
    Clothing, Justice & Peace”
    . free food & transport
    . shoot outs with police
    Links with communists around the world

    FBI arrested many of its leaders & the party died out by 1970
    Seale ran for mayor of Oakland in 1973, getting 34% of the vote


    Race riots

    Police arrests of blacks sometimes created problems.
    Many blacks frustrated that little had changed after new laws esp. in the inner city ghettos.

    Watts Riots, Los Angeles
    11 - 17 August 1965
    Started with an arrest of a black man for drunk-driving & ended six days later.
    For six days there was rioting, attacks on whites and their businesses4,000 soldiers & 1,000+ police, 34 deaths

    $40 million of property destroyed
    unemployment, racism, low living standards


    Mexico Olympics 1968

    200m medal ceremony: Gold Tommie Smith & Bronze John Carlos gave the Black Power salute. Wore the tracksuit with badge ‘Olympic Project for Human Rights
    - so did silver medalist Peter Norman from Australia in support

  • Women's movement


    The Women’s Movement
    Three factors to explain why there was a women’s movement by the mid 1960s:

    . Working women
    During WWII women worked in many jobs previously done by men. This proved to men & women that they were more than capable of working in all industries. Served in the military.

    . Expectations
    Betty Freidan’s best selling book ‘The Feminine Mystique’ (1963)
    explained that many women who married became bored & frustrated & de-skilled. Her research suggested that college educated women wanted more from life than being wives and mothers.
    Traditional roles for women were being questioned.

    . Eleanor Roosevelt
    Widow of President Roosevelt led a Presidential Commission (1961) to look at the position of women in work.
    Report ‘American Women’ 1963 found:
    . 48% of workers were women
    . 95% of managers were men
    . 4% of doctors were women
    . women earned only 55% of men
    . women were legally allowed to be sacked when they married

    . most ‘women’s jobs’ low paid, temporary or part time.


    Women's Liberation

    . during WWII women worked in large numbers, served in the military
    . movement promoting women’s rights in a number of areas
    . 1960: first oral contraceptive for women - gave control to women

    . courts looking at a number of cases involving equality for women
    . 1961: Commission on Status of Women: look at issues facing women - education, tax, social security & employment

    Equal Pay Act 1963 & Civil Rights Act 1964
    (to end unequal pay & discrimination against women)
    but not really happening so NOW was formed

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    Opposition to Women's movement

    STOP Equal Rights Amendment (Eagle Forum)
    . Phyllis Schafly, business & some religious groups: against the ERA who believed in a ‘natural’ position of women
    . wanted protection of women
    . fought against abortion
    . pornography

    Clash between young liberal women & older middle class women
    . young wanted the ‘pill’ to control pregnancy others
    thought it unnatural
    . many younger women were seen as being radical left wing & not really representing the real women in the USA.


    National Organisation of Women

    1966: due to failure of Equal Opportunities Commission to end sexual discrimination inemployment.
    . Wanted an equivalent to NAACP
    . Influenced by Betty Freiden
    . Largest women’s group

    . Bill of Rights: end sex discrimination at work; maternity rights; social security rights; child day care centres; equality in education; equal training opportunities: right of women to birth control & legalise abortion
    . Lobbied politicians
    . Demos & protests
    . Equal Rights Amendment passed in 1972 - NOW then campaigned to get it implemented in ¾ of the states to become law
    . Higher Education Act, banned sex discrimination


    Roe v Wade, 1973

    Roe v Wade
    Supreme Court decided it was woman’s right to decide about abortion.
    National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (NARAL)
    campaigned to repeal state abortion laws before 1973.